The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that people age 5 and older are eligible to receive new COVID-19 vaccine boosters. The updated boosters are expected to restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination by targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which are more transmissible and currently causing most COVID cases in the U.S.
While this is great news, the announcement leaves some wondering whether they need to get a booster — and if they can get it at the same time as a flu shot. Here are the answers to those question and others regarding COVID-19 and influenza vaccines:
Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?
All people who are eligible to receive a booster are encouraged to get one. People age 5 and older who have completed their primary vaccination or received a COVID-19 vaccine booster at least two months ago are eligible for a single booster dose of the updated Pfizer booster. People age 6 and older can receive either the Pfizer booster or the updated single-dose Moderna booster.
Additionally, the CDC is allowing people age 18 and older the option to receive a Novavax monovalent booster instead of the bivalent Pfizer or Moderna booster if they cannot or will not receive mRNA vaccines. To be eligible, they must have completed primary series vaccination but have not previously received a COVID-19 booster.
Who should get a flu shot?
All people age 6 months and older are encouraged to receive a flu vaccine every year. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine is especially important for people at higher risk of having serious complications from the virus, including:
- People with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and lung disease
- Pregnant people
- People age 65 and older
- People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
When should I get the COVID-19 booster and flu shot?
To receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster, it must be at least two months since your primary vaccination was completed or two months since you received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have not yet received your annual flu vaccine, both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine booster can be administered at the same time, though experts recommend receiving the shots in different arms.
However, you should not get a booster or flu shot if you are currently sick. If you have symptoms of the flu or COVID-19, or have received a positive COVID-19 test result, wait to be vaccinated until you have recovered from your illness and have met the guidelines for discontinuing isolation.
What side effects should I expect after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot and the flu shot?
You may experience mild side effects after receiving a booster and flu shot, whether you receive them at the same time or not. However, a recent study shows roughly 8% to 11% of people who receive the shots simultaneously were more likely to report mild or moderate side effects than those who received a COVID-19 booster alone.
Side effects can include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, body aches, gastrointestinal issues, fever and headaches. Symptoms like these are common when getting any vaccine and indicate your immune system is revving up to work against the virus if needed.
If possible, you may want to plan for a day or two of rest after getting your vaccines. And talk with your doctor if you have concerns about receiving a booster or flu shot or if you or your child had an adverse reaction to earlier doses.
Where can I get my COVID-19 vaccine booster and flu shot?
The County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency advises you to contact your health care provider or other community vaccine provider, such as a local pharmacy, for information on COVID-19 vaccine booster and flu shot availability and scheduling. Availability at county vaccine events will be updated on the county’s COVID-19 website and flu website and appointments can be made via MyTurn.
Both the new boosters — which will replace the original boosters — and the flu vaccine will be offered at county vaccine clinics. You can also learn about flu vaccine availability by calling 211.